Becoming an NFL head coach takes a unique blend of talent, strategy, and luck. The NFL is tough on those not cut out for it, with only the best head coaches staying in position for longer than a few seasons.
Let’s dive into the background of the Minnesota Vikings‘ head coach.
Who Is the Minnesota Vikings’ Head Coach?
Kevin O’Connell is the Vikings’ head coach. Born May 25, 1985, O’Connell is the second-youngest head coach in the NFL behind Sean McVay. He played quarterback at San Diego State University, starting 21 games before being drafted by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. O’Connell played in two games, throwing six passes before becoming a coach in 2015.
After spending one year in Cleveland as the quarterbacks’ coach and in San Francisco over “special projects,” the Washington franchise added O’Connell to their talented staff. He coached under Jay Gruden from 2017 through 2019, earning a promotion in each subsequent season. For the 2020 and 2021 seasons, McVay hired O’Connell to be his offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams until the Vikings hired him.
How Long Has Kevin O’Connell Been the Vikings’ Head Coach?
O’Connell is entering his second season with Minnesota, which puts him in a tie for the 21st-longest-tenured current NFL head coach. His first season was an unexpected smash hit. The Vikings won 13 of 17 regular-season games, a total they’ve hit just two other times since the franchise was birthed.
Minnesota lost their lone playoff game in the 2022-23 NFL season, however, a shocking 31-24 loss to the New York Giants. Despite winning the NFC North division with the eighth-best scoring offense, the Vikings finished the year with a negative point differential, in large part because they won an NFL-record 11 one-score games.
Who Was the Head Coach Before Kevin O’Connell?
Mike Zimmer was O’Connell’s predecessor. The defensive-minded head coach finished his eight-year stint with the Vikings with a 72-56-1 record, but he won only two playoff games in five tries.
Zimmer produced four winning seasons but never won fewer than seven games. His best season came in 2017 when the Vikings finished 13-3 behind the NFL’s best defense. However, they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 38-7 in the NFC Conference Championship.
His final season came in 2021 when the Vikings finished 8-9. It was Minnesota’s second-consecutive season with a losing record despite having a roster considered to be above average.
What Is O’Connell’s Record With the Vikings?
O’Connell produced a 13-4 regular-season record in 2022 and a 0-1 playoff record in his lone season with the team. The Vikings entered the season with a win total of 9.5, but having a top-eight offense behind quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, and wide receiver Justin Jefferson helped them exceed expectations.
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Pro Football Reference had the Vikings’ expected win-loss record close to 8.5-9.5, meaning the Vikings were historically fortunate in close games.
Has O’Connell Ever Won a Super Bowl?
Yes, O’Connell won Super Bowl 56 as the offensive coordinator of the Rams. He helped lead an offense that ranked seventh in scoring and ninth in yards gained. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp both enjoyed two of their best seasons while O’Connell was their offensive coordinator.